Champaign, Ill. (WCIA)
Whether you’re a first time homeowner or not – owning a home can be both a rewarding and stressful experience. You will need to make tactical decisions that will allow you to make the most of your financial investment.
And no one knows this better than Angie Hicks, Co-founder of Angie’s List and Chief Customer Officer of ANGI Homeservices. Angie has seen and heard it all for the last 25 years. Below are 10 tips for homeowners to consider as they make decisions for their important financial investment — their homes.
- Establish a rolodex of pros that you can turn to: Ask around to local friends, family and neighbors or use a local review site like Angie’s List and start compiling a list of trusted pros to have on hand.
- Remember the importance of proactive home maintenance: This past year, we’ve spent more time in our homes than ever before, and with that, our homes have endured more wear and tear than usual.
- Do your research – even in an emergency: Before hiring any contractor, get multiple bids, vet them and their subcontractors by checking references, read reviews and verify licensing and insurance.
- If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is: Some contractors promise ridiculously low prices or super-quick turnarounds, only to disappoint homeowners in the long run. If you’re questioning price, consider getting bids from at least three contractors, so you know you’re getting a fair price.
- Get your home improvement contract in writing: Your contract should include- detailed time frames, the total cost, payment arrangements, your contractor’s license number, project description, names of parties involved and how to handle additional costs if necessary.
- Always read the fine print: The devil is in the details, and never does that ring truer than when you’re reviewing a contract. Whether it’s for a one-time service or a six-month renovation, make sure you know exactly what to expect.
- Start an emergency home repairs fund: If you’re not sure how to get started on a home fund, open a savings account that’s attached to your checking account. Set up the accounts so you automatically transfer a regular amount from checking to savings every month or pay period.
- Get an annual home energy audit: A home energy audit can help you assess how much energy your home consumes. It can also show you ways to improve efficiency and create more comfort in your home.
- Know where your plumbing shut-off value is, and how to use it: Learning how to shut off your home’s water in an emergency can avoid costly water damage and save you money.
- Have a home emergency supply kit: No matter how well-prepared local officials and utility companies may be, a major weather disaster will stretch all resources thin. If your house is badly damaged and you’re left without power for a week, it will make a big difference whether you’ve made your own preparations.